‘Friend and benefactor’: Selwyn Oxley and the caravan for the deaf

There is a undated photograph of Warden Adam Fox in the archives. It shows him wearing cap and gown, seated on the steps of a horse-drawn caravan with the hand-written caption ‘Headmaster of St Peter’s College Radley visiting the van.’ An unidentified man looks out from the interior. Until recently, there was nothing to tell us where, when or why this photo was taken, apart from narrowing it down to the short wardenship of Fox himself, from 1918 until 1924. Then a few years ago Old Radleian John Hudson drew our attention to a collection of postcards for sale by auction. They were described as a’ visit to Radley College by ‘Ephphatha’ – Mr Selwyn Oxley’s caravan for the deaf.’ >>>read on >>>

Digging for Victory

In 1941 The Radleian reported that the boys were digging up Pups’ Field ready for the new potato crop. This was just part of a large area of the grounds which were under ‘boy cultivation’ as part of the national ‘Dig for Victory’ Campaign. An Ordnance Survey map of the estate shows the pitches marked out ready for different crops. With the grounds staff and many dons called up for active service, it was the boys who took on the work of preparing the ground for agricultural use, including forestry and ditching. Fuel shortages also brought farm horses back into service to pull ploughs and carts. <<<Read on>>>

Time capsule, 1893 and 2021

The dedication stone in situ before the demolition of the east wall in 2020

Late in 2020, the team working on the extension to Radley College Chapel came to a milestone moment. The east end of the building was being extended to form a much larger sanctuary. The existing east window was to remain, but the wall below it had to be demolished in its entirety. Set into that wall was the dedication stone which had been consecrated and placed there in November 1893. The builders treated the stone with respect so that it could be replaced in the new wall. As they removed the brickwork around it, the top was revealed. There was a hollow carved into the stone: it contained a sealed glass flask like those used to store preserved specimens in school science departments of the 1890s. <<<<read on >>>>

Memorial bench

There is a bench at Radley, comfortably sited overlooking the lake, which bears the plaque ‘Mile, our gardener’. It is just one of the many ways that those who have lived and worked at the school have been commemorated by their friends and families. Sometimes there is a plaque, sometimes just a bunch of flowers regularly laid at the foot of a tree without any ceremony or fanfare, just a quiet, private moment of remembrance and respect. There are trees, clocks, lighting circuits, engraved stones. Not all are memorials about the past: some are a statement of being present in this place, at this time – being a part of it. In 2016, the archivist conducted a survey around the site to record all those which still bore some identification, but after 175 years there are many more which have long since lost that notice and survive only in a brief note in the school records. Here is the story of how we have remembered our friends and families in this place >>>read on>>>

Menu, 2000

In the first year of the new millennium a group met for one final dinner. It marked the end of an association which had actually existed for 120 years. In that time, society had changed out of all recognition, and with it approaches to philanthropy and charity. This is the story of that connection, how it changed over time as society changed, and some of the individuals who contributed to those changes. This is the story of Radley College and St Peter’s, London Docks >>>read on >>>>

Social Colours, 1880

Social Fours League Table 1880


For every boy who comes to Radley College, the identity of his boarding house must seem the most permanent thing in the school.  Timetables change, curriculum changes, staff change, even sports change their rules; but the boarding house has surely been there forever.  Not so.  The ‘Socials’ are one of the most fluid aspects of the school and one of the most peculiar institutions of Radley College.  From All to 6 to 8 to Orchard to 10 to 11, to the mysterious ‘I Social’, to in-College or out-College, from letters to Tutors’ names, this weird institution is more than a place to sleep or ‘board’.  It is, in fact, the boys – ‘my socials’.  Fetch a wet towel to wrap around your head – this is not straightforward!  Read on >>>>>

Wallpaper, 2018

The history of Radley sport in wallpaper (detail)

Organised sport has been central to the life of Radley from the foundation of the school in 1847 when the earliest Fellows included two (Howard and Savory) chosen specifically because they could participate in cricket and boating with the boys. 2016 saw a new development in Radley sport with the appointment of James Gaunt as Director of Sport and the subsequent creation of a Sports Office located on one of the main thoroughfares of the school between Shop and Clocktower.  The new office is shared by the Director of Sport and some of the specialist sports coaches, who include Old Radleian, Nick Wood, formerly of Gloucester Rugby, Olympic rower, Sam Townsend, Hockey Professional Peter Bennett and Cricketer Andy Wagner. But sport already had a long and distinguished career at Radley College and, being keen to uphold and honour that tradition, a decision was taken to decorate the office. Masterminded by James Rock, the Rackets coach, the sports coaches delved through the Archives to identify key moments in Radley sporting history.  They created a timeline which wraps around the room, against a backdrop of world events, and, in the Director of Sport’s office, a wallpaper which is a montage of the many ordinary moments in a school’s sporting life. From sinking boats to early PT, from world champions to the Bash Street Kids – through the magic of digitisation, all sporting life is here…

>>>read on >>>timeline

>>> read on >>>montage